Timothy Schorn, professor of political science at USD, noted that the U.S. today finds itself engaged in multiple wars on three fronts: one in Afghanistan, one that's nearly global in nature and one in Iraq.
"First we have the war in Afghanistan, a war that is a direct response to the Sept. 11 attacks," he said. "That war will go on for quite some time, because we attempted to do the war on the cheap, and we're finding our involvement more prolonged as the Taliban resurrects itself."
The second war, he said, is a general war against terrorism that dates back nearly 15 years.
"This war will only be fought by both military and law enforcement, and there is no end in sight," he said.
"The third was is the war in Iraq, the war that really has nothing to do with the war on terror except to become a self-fulfilling prophecy," Schorn said, "and that war will continue until either this president or the next president decides that we've had enough."
The United States is engaged in a fourth, rhetorical war, he added, that is doing more harm than good.
"It will end when either this president or the next president realizes it will be easier to prosecute the other wars when we tone down the rhetoric, when we realize that fanning the flames of animosity is somewhat counterproductive.
"I don't know when the wars will end," Schorn said. "No one does."
Mahdy Elhossiny, professor of finance at USD, said its important for American citizens to achieve a better understanding of both the recent history in the Middle East, and the current attitude of its citizens.
The United States, with no clear cut goals for its military in that part of the world, is helping to spread animosity rather than fight terror, he said.
"The president of the United States keeps saying that we will be there until the mission is accomplished," Elhossiny said. "I get very nervous every time I hear that. What kind of mission are we trying to execute?
Abhinav Aima, a USD professor of journalism and native of India, said a reality gap is being created between the perceptions Americans have of the war and how people in the Middle East are experiencing the conflict.
The mainstream media's reporting of the conflict is partly to blame. But Americans, he said, don't seem to be making much of an effort to independently learn about the conflict.
"How much do we know about what's going on in Afghanistan?" he asked.
With news information coming mainly from White House officials and few outside sources, Aima said Americans aren't getting the whole picture. "The news media has not done a good enough job of even explaining why 9/11 happened."
"It's not a matter of hate. People are confused," Elhossiny said.
Aima stated that in the U.S. there is a significant lack of understanding of the war and all its issues. "There has to be mass awareness. People need to ask questions."
But, in this country, he said, people are not facing life-threatening political problems so they are less anxious to ask questions or seek the answers. This contributes to the perpetuation of misconceptions.
"The information is out there if people just look for it," Aima said.